LIVING FOR CHANGE
Love and Revolution (2)
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, July 28, 2009
July 19, 2009 was an enchanted evening.. So much to remember. So many to thank.
I remember how hot it was, 360 highly energized people (plus tables) in a room that would comfortably seat half that number.
I remember the incredible diversity. Asian Americans, African Americans, Euro-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Arab Americans; whole families from grandparents to grandsons; black and white activists from the movements of the 60s; graying parents of yesterday’s and today’s activists; college presidents, lawyers and reverends with clerical collars rubbing shoulders with former street thugs and young folks with
rings in their ears.
I remember rap artist Invincible calling out “If we want to see the change” and 300+ voices responding “We must be the change!”
I remember Detroit Summer 1992 volunteer Julia Pointer Putnam introducing the Boggs Educational Center T-shirt; and my niece Tina Chronkhite, who drove in from Grand Rapids with her family.
I remember Carl Edwards recalling how sixteen years ago he and his partner, Alice Jennings, promised a dying Jimmy Boggs that they would “take care of Grace“; and General Baker and Maureen Taylor, who also
go back to the 60s, sharing their recollections.
I remember wearing a lei of fragrant flowers woven by Emily Lawsin Kurashige and four year old Tula who, in her bright yellow dress, helped me blow out the candles on the huge chocolate cake.
I remember a frail Bob Lucas from Chicago , standing very tall when Shea Howell introduced him as the leader of the 1966 March into Cicero, IL.
I remember the many disability activists, some in wheelchairs like Naomi Ortiz with whom I did a AMC workshop on Saturday.
I remember how actor-activist Danny Glover began by recalling our mutual friend actor-activist Ossie Davis who, at 88, passed away peacefully one morning in 2005, a few months before he was to celebrate my 90th birthday with me. Danny, on location for two months in Africa and Italy, landed in Detroit only a few hours before the party. “I couldn’t be anywhere else,” he said. He called this moment “transformative” and said he comes to Detroit because our “from the ground up“ activities are providing a vision of the future.
I remember Kesho Scott, with her long dreadlocks, telling us that she had just returned from a Women’s Studies conference in China where my name came up several times. Now the author of many books and known as the “guerilla professor, ” Kesho shared how profoundly her life had been influenced by the few years she spent in the early 80s in the National Organization for an American Revolution . Like most young activists, she had expected change to come quickly, but she has not experienced the despair that demoralizes many activists because she learned in NOAR that revolutionary change takes time and patience, As Jimmy Boggs used to say, “Don’t lose hope, don’t lose your spirit. You’ve got to believe in yourself, and what makes you believe in yourself is what is taking place all around you and making you less of a human being every day.”
I remember Adrienne and Starlet singing “Happy Birthday” to send us on our way.
I remember the many organizers and volunteers, hard-working Boggs Center and Detroit-City of Hope members, and also out-of towners who pitched in to help sell T-shirts, pamphlets and books, and prepare and serve the food provided by Avalon.
I thank everyone. organizers and volunteers, speakers, and the many old and new friends who came up to say “Hello” and left birthday cards, books, T-shirts, and donations to the Boggs Center in response to the appeal of Ron Scott, proud member of the Detroit Black Panther Party 40 years ago.
Teresa Kelly was right on when she wrote in last week’s Citizen that “The future was on the agenda” at my party. But the past was also present. Together, generation after generation, we continue to evolve and create new concepts and scenarios of Love and Revolution.